“There was Regent’s Park. Yes. As a child he had walked in Regent’s Park–odd, he thought, how the thought of childhood keeps coming back to me–the result of seeing Clarissa, perhaps; for women live much more in the past than we do, he thought. They attach themselves to places; and their fathers–a woman’s always proud of her father” (55).
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1925. Print.
Virginia Woolf utilizes the stream of consciousness method throughout her work, Mrs. Dalloway, as a means of providing insight into her characters’ thought processes. As seen through this excerpt, much of the novel focuses on events that occurred to the characters in the past and shaped the way they view their lives and circumstances in the present.
“The rushing after lost time, the frantic quest for the present, the rage to be “contemporaries of all mankind” (as Octavio Paz put it) — all these things are typical of the search for a way to enter literary time and thereby attain artistic salvation.”
Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 91.
This passage portrays modernity in a peculiar way. The term “artistic salvation” is intriguing in the way that it captures the intentions of so many authors across time. Salvation means that the work will be preserved from being harmed or lost, thus placing the work in a realm outside of time and space, free from the changing trends and modes of literature. Of course, we can consider this to be what happens to a book when it becomes a classic, but Casanova uses this to point out the contradictions of being “modern.” If a classic, a book that has been preserved, is beyond the chains of time, then the quest for being modern is also the quest for writing something outside of time (“literary time”), not the quest to be “connect[ed] with fashion” (91).